Washington, US: According to the new Congressional Research Service report in the US, Chinese activities depicts that the country is planning to dominate in East China Sea and South China Sea.
“China’s approach to the SCS and ECS is termed usually termed by the observers as a ‘salami-slicing’ strategy that employs a series of incremental actions, none of which by itself is a casus belli, to gradually change the status quo in China’s favour,” said the report titled ‘US-China Strategic Competition in South and East China Seas: Background and Issues for Congress.
This document was prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and was released last week. CRS serves as nonpartisan shared staff to congressional committees and Members of Congress. It operates solely at the behest of and under the direction of Congress.
The report has also stated that other observers have referred to China’s approach as a strategy of grey zone operations which means operations that reside in a grey zone between peace and war.
Beijing’s strategy also involves incrementalism, creeping annexation or creeping invasion, or as a “talk and take” strategy, meaning a strategy in which China engages in (or draws out) negotiations while taking actions to gain control of contested areas.
Perhaps more than any other set of actions, China’s island-building (aka land-reclamation) and base-construction activities at sites that it occupies in the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands in the SCS have heightened concerns among U.S. observers that China is rapidly gaining effective control of the SCS, the report said.
China’s large-scale island-building and base-construction activities in the SCS appear to have begun around December 2013 and were publicly reported starting in May 2014.
Awareness of, and concern about, the activities appears to have increased substantially following the posting of a February 2015 article showing a series of “before and after” satellite photographs of islands and reefs being changed by the work.
China occupies seven sites in the Spratly Islands. It has engaged in island-building and facilities construction activities at most or all of these sites, and particularly at three of them–Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef, and Mischief Reef, all of which now feature lengthy airfields as well as substantial numbers of buildings and other structures, the report added.
The congressional report also underlined other concerning activities by Beijing as a new Chinese maritime law that China approved in April 2021 as an amendment to its 1983 maritime traffic safety law that went into effect September 1, 2021.
The law seeks to impose new notification and other requirements on foreign ships entering what China describes as “sea areas under the jurisdiction” of China. Some observers have stated that the new law could lead to increased tensions in the SCS, particularly if China takes action to enforce its provisions, according to the report.
The report also laid emphasis upon Beijing’s statement that it supports freedom of navigation and has not interfered with freedom of navigation.
China, however, appears to hold a narrow definition of freedom of navigation that is centred on the ability of commercial cargo ships to pass through international waters.
In contrast to the broader US/Western definition of freedom of navigation (aka freedom of the seas), the Chinese definition does not appear to include operations conducted by military ships and aircraft, said the report.